The last few day I was working with some people on some reasonably complicated optimization problems in the retail industry. One of the great resources on using analytics in that environment is:
On my way back from Chicago there was bad weather and planes breaking down, so I had quite some time to read this. Highly recommended to get a feeling about some issues in this industry that can be tackled by some math.
During the work we found again that it really helps to try to develop some models very early in the project. Even with invented data, it allows you to really focus on the problem. As a result you will find the weak spots in your knowledge about the problem and will generate often very pointed questions. The exercise of inventing data is also a very good tool to get a better understanding.